Gleanings from the Second Debate

I loved the setting of the second Republican presidential debate: the Reagan Library with Air Force One in the background. I was there almost a year ago; it’s an impressive place.

Fourteen Republican U.S. presidential candidates (L-R), U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, former New York Governor George Pataki, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, U.S. Senator Rand Paul, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson, businessman Donald Trump, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, former CEO Carly Fiorina, Ohio Governor John Kasich and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie pose before the start of the second official Republican presidential candidates debate of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, United States, September 16, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson - RTS1HC6

Not as impressive was how CNN conducted the debate. Jake Tapper, the moderator, attempt to be the whole show; the other two questioners, when allowed a stray question or two, were no more than window dressing, virtually non-existent.

It also became evident from the very start that Tapper’s goal was to create as much divisiveness, bitterness, and “good television” as possible by trying to make everyone attack Donald Trump. For CNN, this was just a moment to try to relive its glory years when people actually watched this news channel rather than Fox News.

Overall, reaction to CNN’s ploy has been largely negative.

But enough about CNN. My aim today is to provide whatever analysis I can of the candidates. Let’s get Trump out of the way first, since he has been the headline grabber now for weeks.

His petulance showed immediately. Upon getting his first question, he decided instead to turn to Rand Paul at the far end of the line and tell him that he didn’t deserve even to be on stage with everyone else because of his low poll numbers.

What did that have to do with anything substantive? It was Trump being Trump, annoyed because Paul has been one of his most vocal critics, and he will never let a criticism go without response. His thin skin won’t allow it.

I’m not a Paul supporter, but this was patently unpresidential and rude. Paul’s rejoinder was that Trump was revealing his “sophomoric” attitude. I couldn’t agree more. Perhaps I might change the word to “juvenile” or “childish.”

The most cringeworthy moment was when Trump attempted to walk back his insult of Carly Fiorina’s face by shouting into the microphone that she really is beautiful. The only reaction from the assembled crowd was a groan because it was so obviously a fake comment. Fiorina, for her part, didn’t even look at him and retained her dignity.

Beyond that, when one looks at whatever Trump offered as substance, one might ask, as in the old Wendy’s commercial, “Where’s the beef?” No specifics on foreign policy except to say that he will get along with everyone and will be respected. Putin, apparently, will be so overwhelmed with Trump’s personality that all Russian aggression will cease. I seem to remember that being Obama’s approach in 2008.

Trump wasn’t any better on domestic policy. All we can do is believe grandiose promises that everything will be great once he’s in charge.

Unscientific polls afterwards indicate he was the runaway winner of the debate. Those are the kinds of polls that Ron Paul always won. I don’t recall his presidency.

Let’s go on now to the real candidates. The field, of course, is much too large. How to begin? How about Mike Huckabee’s comment later that he felt like he was waiting in line at the DMV? Huckabee and Scott Walker received the least time to speak than all the rest, yet they are two of the governors who have shown how to be an executive.

Life isn’t fair, right?

Rather than go down the long list and say something about everyone, I would like to provide my view that only candidates with strong conservative/Christian principles be allowed to participate in the next debate. I know, that’s a pipe dream. But given complete dictatorial power, I would immediately suspend the campaigns of Paul, Kasich, Bush, and Christie (and Trump, of course).

Half the Candidates

Ben Carson I put in a special category. He is a wonderful man, thoroughly Christian, with whom I would love to sit down and talk and enjoy his presence. However, I don’t see him as the next president. His answers on minimum wage and foreign policy, for example, are not clearly thought through; I just don’t believe he is ready to be president. Few successful neurosurgeons can make that leap, no matter how pure their intentions and impeccable their character.

For me, that leaves, in alphabetical order, Cruz, Fiorina, Huckabee, Rubio, and Walker. I would love to add Bobby Jindal to that list if he ever breaks out of the lower tier.

Ted Cruz was forceful, as always, and principled in his answers. I don’t doubt his commitment to constitutional concepts and his bravery, shown by his willingness to buck the system and tackle his own Republican leadership. The only down side to Cruz, for me, remains his rather speechified way of talking, as if every answer is an invitation to go into speech mode. I would prefer someone who comes across as more human and less robotic.

Carly Fiorina certainly benefited most from this debate. She was sharp, knowledgeable, and courageous. Many commented that, at times, she seemed to be the real adult in the room. She was the anti-Trump, full of specifics and well informed on all the issues. Regardless of what happens in the future, I will always fondly remember her masterful takedown of Planned Parenthood and the complicity of Democrats in supporting its atrocities.

She was eloquent in her defense of the unborn in a way that few have been. Some have questioned her real views on abortion, but I don’t see how anyone can have said what she said—and with the kind of vehement conviction with which she said it—without her pro-life stance being genuine.

I agree with others who have concluded that she was the standout speaker of the night. Whether that translates into the presidency is still another matter.

Mike Huckabee was, as usual, an effective communicator. I was particularly pleased that he came out and said he would definitely have a litmus test for judges. He called out the hypocrisy of the Democrats who say they have no litmus test when, in reality, they would never vote for a pro-life nominee or anyone with even a hint of constitutional principles.

Huckabee was strong in his condemnation of the Iran deal and how the consequences of that deal can lead to the destruction of Israel and undermine the security of America. He deserves to be heard.

Marco Rubio was, like Fiorina, well versed on the issues and effective at communicating his views, particularly on foreign policy and national security. Even though he damaged himself with conservatives by his dalliance with the Gang of Eight immigration reform plan, he clearly knows we need to tackle that problem, and I believe he has learned a lesson about attempting some sort of comprehensive plan.

The weakest part of Rubio’s evening was his defense of his voting record in the Senate. He’s missed votes, he said, because nothing would have been accomplished by being there since the measures he would have voted for were doomed anyway. My response is that he was elected to represent, so he should be there as the representative of his (my) state whenever possible.

Finally, there is Scott Walker, the candidate who was given the least amount of time to speak. Many have now written Walker off since he doesn’t come across as strong in these forums as others. I think that’s a mistake.

Walker was better this time than in the first debate, but he had to try harder to be heard. He is the only candidate who has come up with specific plans to replace Obamacare and reform the federal government unions. Tapper never asked about those; he was interested only in controversy.

I refuse to dismiss Walker because he has an outstanding record as governor of Wisconsin. He not only has manifested courage in standing up to opponents who wanted to take over the Capitol building and remove him from office, but he has succeeded in getting his reforms through his legislature. In other words, he has been an effective governor.

If conviction and competence were the only factors that Republican voters were to consider, Walker would be the nominee.

I feel like I’ve been writing forever here. I don’t claim any special insight that others haven’t offered, but I hope my thoughts will spark a fresh perspective for some who read these words.

May God extend His mercy to our distraught nation once again as we move forward to make what might be the most crucial political decisions in the history of this nation.

Planned Parenthood & God’s Righteousness

In a week that has been filled with national security foolishness—a.k.a. the deal with Iran—and the ISIS threat come home—the murder of Marines in Chattanooga by a Muslim terrorist—some of the mainstream news outlets have barely mentioned the most grisly event.

Planned ParenthoodA video showing a top abortion “doctor” with Planned Parenthood detailing how the organization sells body parts of dead babies (who were murdered during an abortion) hardly even makes the radar screen as news that everyone needs to hear.

Let me just say it outright: Planned Parenthood is an evil organization dedicated to snuffing out the lives of unwanted children and, in the process, overturning all Biblical morality.

And it gets federal funding.

The latest figures show that 94% of the money that flows into Planned Parenthood goes toward abortion “services.” More than 330,000 abortions are performed annually through the auspices of this vile organization.

Yet this doesn’t bother the Left, of course. Some consciences are seared.

Feel-Good Story

That’s the way of the world, and I expect it. What’s more disturbing is the attitude of those on the so-called Christian Left (personally, I think that’s an oxymoron) who seem unperturbed by the abortion holocaust. Yet they find it quite easy to point fingers at those who stand firm on Biblical truths such as the sanctity of life and God’s design for sexuality and accuse us of self-righteousness.

What I have witnessed in my interactions with such people is that one can use the old cliché appropriately: when you point your finger at someone else, remember that there are four fingers pointing back at you.

The attitude that I see all too often is illustrated very well in this classic comic:

If God Is Pleased

It’s all too easy to fool oneself. I know I have to keep a constant watch on my own attitudes. Some will, of course, read what I have written here today and accuse me of self-righteousness. No, I’m merely grieved over the butchering of innocent children. I’m simply trying to call us all to mirror God’s righteousness.

A Question of Character

As a nation, are we so jaded and cynical that one’s personal character doesn’t matter anymore? When someone runs for the highest office in the land, shouldn’t we have greater expectations of that person than, say, someone who picks up our trash weekly?

Might we want to weigh character along with one’s accomplishments? Who am I talking about, you ask?

Accomplishments

Isn’t this the same person who only got her political stripes because she married a man who ended up as president (that’s another whole story and primer on lack of character)? Yet now she is able to snap her fingers and make money in a way few can, all the while hypocritically savaging those who make money the old-fashioned way—by earning it.

Greedy

This is the person who ensures that she doesn’t have to answer too many questions from the press—many of whom don’t want to find the truth anyway—and uses unique means for keeping them at bay:

Trust Me

On those select occasions when she deigns to allow a conversation, she makes sure to find a reporter who is acquiescent in anything she says, one who lets her spin whatever lies she chooses without any follow-up questions. That happened recently with a CNN “interview.” It was a joke.

Less Obvious

There are so many scandals, false stories, and outright lies emanating from this person that one might be excused from wondering how anyone can support her:

People Trust Me

Her behavior has been compared to . . . . well, to this:

Oldest Teenage Girl

Might I suggest a modification to her official campaign logo?

Hilarious

Is the electorate really this foolish? We’ll see.

The Media & Our Perceptions

A short commentary today on how the media picks out what’s important to cover and how it may actually shape the perceptions of its audience. Take, for instance, this picture the Associated Press put out the other day:

Ted Cruz & Gun

Oh, said the AP, that was totally accidental. Right.

Negative Light

Meanwhile, if you depend on the mainstream news for your information, whether in print, on TV, or the Internet, you might be excused for thinking the whole flap over Hillary Clinton’s e-mails is no longer an issue. That would be a misleading perception, at odds with reality:

Meaning of All

Then there’s the Brian Williams saga. Dropped from NBC’s Nightly News because of his penchant for . . . well, bald-faced lying . . . he is now back. He’s been relegated to that joke of a news network known as MSNBC, but just the fact he’s going to be on the air again after what he has done is, frankly, unbelievable. They may yet regret this decision:

Reminds Me

Confidence in the mainstream media ought to be at an all-time low. I’m praying that more of the general public gets the message.

The New Weirdness Illustrated

In the spirit of my last post, “When the Weird Becomes Normal,” I’ve decided to dedicate today’s blog to a litany of weirdness, amply illustrated by some of our best cartoonists, political and otherwise. I’ll let the cartoons speak for themselves.

On the political front, there’s always the Obama administration to demonstrate supreme foolishness:

Cold-Blooded Killers

Never Felt Better

The sad state of education helps to show why we are in decline as a nation:

Enough Is Enough

As we move further into the culture, we see a radical feminism that has undermined men and the family in society and contributed to our redefining of terms:

Benevolent

Finally, there is the lethal combination of a depraved culture, redefinition of terms, and pure political opportunism:

Poor Progressive

That’s about all I can take for one day. Lord, give us Your strength and wisdom for how to respond to all that is happening around us.

The Duggars, the Media, & Salvation

I’d really rather not write about this today. I’m concerned that what I write may be misunderstood. However, because I believe in the life-changing power of faith in Christ, I have to say this.

Duggar FamilyThe news media seems to have zeroed in on the latest example of hypocrisy in the Christian world—or what they deem to be hypocrisy—by focusing with laser-like aim on the Duggar family. Let me say from the outset that I have never watched their program and had little knowledge of them prior to the current frenzy over what one of their sons did to some of his sisters when he was a teenager. I was aware that some who hate the idea of a large family, and one that promotes Christian faith at that, were critical of them. I had no idea just how venomous that criticism would be now that some—I emphasize “some”—facts have come out.

What did this son do? It’s sketchy. Two of his sisters are going public to deny most of the allegations floating around. They certainly don’t seem to have been traumatized, and they appear to want to set the record straight. Are they victims who don’t really understand their victimhood? The professionals are already jumping on that bandwagon.

There’s another possibility. The son, in deep remorse for what he did, might have gotten his life straightened out through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. From what I read, he has a fine marriage now. He even told his bride-to-be ahead of time what he had done as a teenager, but that he received forgiveness from God and has walked in His ways since then.

Now, I don’t know for sure if that’s true. But here’s what is most bothersome about the whole episode: the critics will never believe it is true, no matter how much proof can be brought forward to affirm it. They think “once a sex offender, always a sex offender.” There’s some validity to that view, since recidivism in that realm is high. Yet if we, as Christians, don’t believe God can turn a life around, perhaps we should stop saying He does.

I want to give the family time to make their case. I also want to know why those sealed juvenile records were released when it is against the law to do so. What agenda is at work here? Is this another attempt by the anti-Christian forces in the nation to undermine the faith?

Any type of sexual harassment or abuse is sin. Christians are clear on that. Let’s just be sure we have all the facts first, though, before we cast our stones. Jesus’ words to the woman caught in adultery still ring: Go and sin no more. If the Duggar son has taken Jesus’ words to heart and lived his life since then on that basis, we should be rejoicing in a transformed life, not digging up old dirt.

Jesus came to call sinners to repentance. He came to bring eternal life to those who don’t deserve it. That applies to all of us. When we come to repentance and receive His forgiveness and our hearts are changed, that’s called salvation.

My Little Megaphone

I feel eclectic today—no overarching theme, just some scattered thoughts. I watch the presidential campaign unfolding and see the same old bias in reporting. Nothing ever changes there.

Way Over the Limit

The mainstream news media also has a hard time recognizing real news:

Top Story

Then there’s the overwhelming evidence that the government that’s supposed to keep us safe has no idea what it’s doing. The 95% failure rate for the TSA in a test to see if they can stop weapons from coming through airport security is not comforting:

Not Miss

Another random thought has to do with the imbalance in the voices allowed in the public square:

Free Speech

Yet I will continue to use my little megaphone. Who knows how God may use it sometime?